Emily Scheck, 19, a cross-country runner and sophomore at Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., was disowned by her parents and left with nothing but credit card debt after they discovered she was dating a woman.
Scheck's mother texted her during the summer to say she was disgusted and left Scheck with two options; come home and go through conversion therapy, or be excommunicated from her family, Outsports reports. Scheck rejected the idea of conversion therapy and wanted to stay at Canisius to continue with her cross-country team.
Sometime after that conversation, Scheck found that the license plate had been removed from her car by her father and the car was packed with items from Scheck's childhood home. Her father also stopped payments on the insurance for the car and left a note telling her that she could have no further contact with her parents or siblings.
When her parents first cut her off, Scheck had a mere $20 to her name and was working two jobs just to stay above water. She had no meal plan at college, and her family stuck her with a Discover Card bill for items the family had purchased on a recent vacation.
“At the start, it was definitely tough,” Scheck told Outsports. “I was lucky to be in preseason the first couple of weeks because coach could get us meals in the dining hall.”
Scheck said she sought the advice of her coach, Nate Huckle, who tried to help, but to no avail. With only a partial scholarship, she had no way to pay tuition and cover costs for items including books, housing, and meals. That's when her roommate created a GoFundMe page, which raised $25,000 within a few days.
For a while, there was a slight hiccup in the plan to raise money for Scheck via GoFundMe, and it looked like the National Collegiate Athletic Association would force Scheck to choose between her money and her status on the cross-country team. Eventually, the NCAA allowed Scheck to keep both.
"Canisius College received clarification from the NCAA that Emily Scheck can retain her eligibility and continue to receive GoFundMe donations that assist her with living and educational expenses. The NCAA staff worked cooperatively with Canisius College to provide guidance that the fundraiser can continue, with school monitoring. NCAA rules allow a school to assist a student-athlete with a fundraiser after a significant life event occurs," the college said last week in its official statement regarding Scheck's situation.
"Canisius and the NCAA will continue to work together in support of Emily. She is a member of the Canisius family and we will to do whatever we can to assist her," the statement continued.
It is up in the air as to whether or not Scheck will be able to retain any additional money raised by crowdfunding, but, the NCAA's decision bodes well for LGBTQ student-athletes in similar situations.